The following post is available for archival purposes only. There is an updated debit card post that will show you the current options. Please read there and continue to earn miles for paying your bills and non-credit purhcases.
There was speculation about the Delta Debit Card from SunTrust possibly going away. I covered the card extensively here if you would like more info. My own mother got the card just before the website was taken down and the offer was to be closed. Gary Leff had indicated that they would be “replacing the card” which suggested to me at the time that this would be an alternate reward scheme and nothing as lucrative as the previous. The link to the new page is here.
They have renovated the website and are taking applications again. From what I can see nothing is different, but the fact that SunTrust is investing in the renovation of the site indicates to me that they are staying with it for some time to come.
Why should you get the card?
For every swipe of the card you earn 1 Skymile per $1. That’s as good as a credit card will get you for any Delta offerings and you also earn 2 Skymiles per $1 when spent on Delta just like Delta AMEX cards. However, as this is a debit card, there is no hard pull of your credit (unless you request a credit line later). This is just a regular checking account linked card that gives you miles on things you usually couldn’t earn on. You also have a 5,000 Skymile sign up bonus to get you started in exchange for the annual fee (see below).
Every year, the Sherpstress and I earn at least 72,000 Skymiles on the card. How? We send our payroll deposits to our SunTrust account (Delta Debit) and load everything on to our Bluebirds to pay our bills ($5k monthly limit at a register, $1k monthly limit online). I mean every bill. We pay our mortgage this way, insurance, credit card bills, even send payments to people or organizations not on a billpay structure (like church or a baby sitter). Those not on billpay get a regular check in the mail in about 2-3 days and every month the miles post to our accounts.
Every year that is enough for a coach ticket to Asia (currently selling for $1,500-2,500 depending on where you might be flying from) and every two years, a business class ticket ($4,000-7,000) – fully worth the trouble.
Consider as well that as of next year it should be easier to find award space on Delta (per their highly ambiguous promise) and earning rates for cheaper fares will drop through the floor. This is one way to continue to earn lots of Delta miles at a very low cost.
What are some drawbacks?
The card has an annual fee of $75 (bonus of 5,000). While that’s cheaper than the price Delta charges to buy Skymiles outright, it’s not a lot better. When you consider that you can effectively double-dip on all of your credit card purchases (1 mile for the airline of your choice credit card per dollar and another 1 Skymile per dollar when you pay that card off) – it’s worth it.
There is also a $12/monthly fee assuming that you do not hold a $3,000 balance. The Sherpas have better places to put their money, but considering the payoff (Business class to Asia) it’s worth factoring this in as a $144 annual fee paid monthly + $75 annual fee for the card ($219 in total).
The fees on this account are likely to be higher than other checking account you have ever had, maybe even higher than some of the credit cards you might have in your wallet right now. However, this is the most lucrative card to get miles for the purchases you aren’t right now getting miles – your bills. If your finances look like ours, a majority of the dollars you spend are not items you can (or would) put on a credit card. But even when spending on a credit card than you are on bills, this is an opportunity to double those miles.
If you are from the camp where you expect a kickback on every transaction, this is the card for you. Even other Debit accounts that have a mileage earning feature per transaction (Hawaiian and American Airlines BankDirect) only pay 1 mile per $2. For me, 72,000 Skymiles is definitely worth the $219 in fees per year.